Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11: Remembering Our Past

By Capt. Kalen Arreola
79th SSC PAO

I can remember exactly what I was doing when the trade towers went down. I remember calling home, asking my family if they heard the news, and then asking if they were okay.

Life has changed quite a bit since the towers fell. We've been a nation at war for more than eight years and we continue on with deployments. Even with combat operations ending in Iraq, there's much to be done in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Our Soldiers and Families have undergone years of stress and changes as their loved ones go back and forth from the Middle East. Our communities have reached out and supported us and we have formed thousands of new relationships across the world.

This year, I've been asked to spend this somber weekend with some folks who know a few things about war and all that goes with it. I'm here in Branson, Mo. to attend the 64th Annual reunion of the 314th Infantry Regiment, 79th Infantry Division of World War II.

They are the living history of the 79th SSC and I am deeply honored to be here to catalogue their stories, laugh at their jokes and thank their wives for everything they've done.

Their world was turned upside down when Hitler brought his evil to the world, and they lived through years of war -- without today's communications luxuries -- and having faith that their men and women would return whole.

Last night I had the opportunity to meet some of these humble WWII veterans. There are 11 of them here this weekend, but five years ago there were fifty.

When you think about the events of 9/11 and what it means to you, remember the United States as a whole, and its history.

This is not the first time our freedom has been threatened, nor will it be the last. Our generation is one of many that have faced fear and overcome terrible tragedy to make our country a beacon for millions worldwide.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

We Are Official: Activation Ceremony Held at JFTB

Maj. Gen. William D. Frink Jr., right, and Command Sgt. Maj. Robert N. Roberson Jr. unfurl the flag of the 79th United States Army Reserve Sustainment Support Command at the Joint Forces Training Base Los Alamitos. When fully staffed, the headquarters will employ close to 200 people including full-time Army Reserve soldiers, drilling Reserve soldiers, and civilian support staff. U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Tracy Ellingsen

The 79th United States Army Reserve Sustainment Support Command will be the headquarters for more than 20,000 Army Reserve soldiers across 14 Western states that specialize in combat sustainment support.

On October 1, the command will take leadership of units in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Their mission includes supporting troops with transportation, medical support, finance, and administration, to name a few.

“Our 79th family consists of soldiers, civilian employees, family members, contractors, and community members working together to improve and sustain the lives of our soldiers so they can concentrate on their duties,” said Maj. Gen. William D. Frink Jr., commander of the 79th.

When fully staffed, the command headquarters will employ close to 200 people including full-time Army Reserve soldiers, drilling Reserve soldiers, and civilian support staff. Many of the full-time soldiers and civilians and their families live in the local community.

The new command is planned to have four subordinate, deployable units under it, called expeditionary sustainment commands. When deployed, these commands will provide support to fellow units in countries throughout the world.

It carries its lineage from the 79th Infantry Division, which fought in the Meuse-Argonne area of France in World War I and took part in the invasion of Normandy in World War II.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

79th Sustainment Support Command to Hold Activation Ceremony at JFTB Los Alamitos

Members of the community welcome to attend Sunday ceremony

Army Reserve officials will hold a ceremony Sunday, Aug. 15 activating a new multi-state headquarters that will support thousands of Soldiers west of the Mississippi River. The organization touts lineage from the 79th Infantry Division, which fought decisive battles in World Wars I and II.

The 79th Sustainment Support Command is starting up following the December inactivation of the 63rd Regional Readiness Command, which has a long history at the base and in the surrounding communities.

The new command is planned to have four subordinate, deployable units under it, called expeditionary sustainment commands. When deployed, these commands will provide support to fellow units in the theater of operations.

The 79th invites both media and the community to attend the ceremony:

  • What: Activation Ceremony for the Army Reserve 79th SSC
  • When: August 15, 2010, 11 a.m.
  • Where: Joint Forces Training Base, Los Alamitos, Yorktown Avenue outside
    Robinson Hall

For more information or to coordinate media coverage and interviews, please contact Sgt. Tracy Ellingsen at (951) 892-8830.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

From the CAR: Comprehensive Soldier Fitness

After nearly nine years of sustained conflict, many Soldiers and Families are feeling the strain of long separations and challenging environments. We and our Families must be emotionally, socially and spiritually resilient in the face of these realities. Developing every dimension of strength must be as high a priority as maintaining the physical resiliency that we make time for every day.

A new Army initiative, Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, helps Soldiers and Families take their own pulse. By May 31st, every Soldier must take the online Global Assessment Tool (GAT), as part of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) program. Measuring beyond physical strength, the survey provides a baseline in the four additional dimensions of strength:
emotional, social, spiritual and family, and provides an opportunity to track self-development and growth in these areas over time.

The Global Assessment Tool (GAT) is online now ( As soon as a Soldier finishes the GAT, self-help modules for the domains of psychological fitness automatically present themselves. Use these tools to get going. I would also encourage you to ask your family members to take the Family member assessment (AKO log-in required). It is on line now ( This program enables Family members to actively manage various physical and psychological challenges in their personal lives, and continue to be the pillar of support behind our Soldiers. The Strength of the Nation depends on it.

The result of the GAT is confidential, protects the identity of Soldiers and helps in removing the perceived stigma that may go with seeking help.
Only you will see the result. All we know is that you completed the assessment.

CSF marks a new era for the Army by comprehensively equipping and training our Soldiers, Family members and Army Civilians to maximize their potential and face the physical and psychological challenges of sustained operations.

The CSF mission is to develop and institute a holistic, resilience-building fitness program for Soldiers, Family members and Army Civilians.

Based on more than 30 years of scientific study and results, CSF uses individual assessments, tailored virtual training, classroom training and embedded resilience experts to provide the critical skills our Soldiers, Family members and Army Civilians need.

I believe this program is vitally important to the long-term health and fitness of our Army Reserve. It will take the commitment of every leader and Soldier to bring this to fruition.

Let's make accomplishing this mission a priority. The Army is committed to a prevention model for the entire force, enhancing Soldiers resilience and coping skills. Please take the GAT now at More information on the CSF program and the GAT is available at the CSF website

Lieutenant General, US Army
Chief, Army Reserve/Commanding General, US Army Reserve Command

Oscars nominations get “Army Strong”

By Staff Sgt. Walter Talens
302nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Feb. 2, 2010

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – You could say that “Army Strong” should be the theme of the 82nd Academy Awards – or at least “Military Strong” – given the number of nominations for military films this year.

The 2010 Oscar nominees were announced this morning in Beverly Hills, hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak and 2008 Oscar Nominee Anne Hathaway.

For the first time since 1943, there were 10 “Best Motion Picture of the Year” announcements, as opposed to the usual five.

Nominees like “The Hurt Locker,“ a film about an Army explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) squad trying to keep Baghdad streets clear of roadside bombs, and “Inglorious Basterds,” the World War II period movie about an elite team of Nazi Killers, are among the films portraying the Army and military operations in general.

The actors portraying the Soldiers received their share of nominations as well. Competing in the “Best Lead Actor” category is Jeremy Renner from “The Hurt Locker.” Nominated for “Best Supporting Actor” are Woody Harrelson and Cristoph Waltz.

Harrelson portrayed a casualty notification officer in “The Messenger,” and the Word War II film “Inglourious Basterd” actor Christoph Waltz, who played a Nazi colonel.

The Marines weren’t far behind the Army’s noms with representation in “Avatar,” which was nominated for nine awards, including best picture, director, and cinematography.

Throw in “District 9” with their representation of private military companies and it brings together a serious list of films that use the military as their theme, backdrop, and dramatic purpose.

Speaking of drama – keep an eye out for the results of several other categories. “Precious” director Lee Daniels is the second black filmmaker to be nominated since 1991, after John Singleton’s nomination for best director of “Boyz ‘N the Hood.”

If Lee wins, he will be the first black director to win an Oscar. If Kathryn Bigelow wins, she could be the first woman.

Another great-to-watch competition lies between ex-spouses James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow for best picture and director. One is a mega-million-dollar production, while the other is a low-budget feature film – each with their own messages about war.

Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin will host the 2010 Oscars live on Sunday, March 7, 2010.

The 302nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment out of Bell, Calif. will be on the red carpet at the 2010 Academy Awards and will bring you a behind-the-scenes look at the festivities – not to mention tons of shout outs from today’s hottest celebrities.

Staff Sgt. Walter Talens will also be posting behind-the-scenes footage of today’s nominations this week. For more on the nominations visit

New SSC draws from lineage of 79th Infantry Division, touting combat in world wars I and II

By John D. Wagner
79th SSC PAO

There is a new command in town. And its lineage flaunts campaign streamers and unit citations from the trenches of World War I and the Normandy invasion of World War II.

The 79th Sustainment Support Command, planned to support a vast area in the United States, is named after the famed 79th Infantry Division.

The division’s distinguished record beyond other such units made it a unanimous choice, said Milt Houghton, former command force programs manager. He was involved in the research along with Col. Susan Lee, SSC chief of staff; and Sgt. Maj. Dawn Kuykendall, force programs sergeant major.

The team coordinated with the U.S. Army Center of Military History in Washington, D.C. to obtain data and research the lineages of six commands.

“We wanted the SSC to have its own identity,” Houghton said. “Army Reserve divisions are (in name) number 60 or greater. The 79th surfaced as we went through the list of available divisions.”

The 79th (division) has more campaign streamers and banners than any of the other divisions (considered),” he said. The division earned eight meritorious unit citations and four streamers, from combat long ago.

The division later became the 79th Army Reserve Command in 1967, which later merged with two other units to become the 99th Regional Readiness Command in 1996.

The 79th SSC was activated in December and is step by step being set up with the ultimate goal of supporting four expeditionary sustainment commands: the 311th in West Los Angeles, the 364th in Seattle, the 451st in Wichita, Kan., and the 4th in San Antonio.

The units under each sustainment command would span a colossal 26 states. The 79th would thus have a huge area to support. And having a distinctive name was important.

The 79th fought in the Meuse-Argonne campaigns in France during World War I. During that conflict, it was known as the “Liberty Division,” based on its mission of liberating the Lorraine area of France from enemy control.

The 79th also took part as well in the second wave invasion of Normandy Beach in 1944 to overthrow Nazi Germany.

“I am honored and proud to present another unit (following the 63rd RRC), with a long tradition of our country in war and as a Reserve command in peacetime,” said Lee. “I believe the 79th Soldiers of the future will wear the patch proudly and remember those who came before them to secure their freedom.”

79th Sustainment Support Command earns its number, completes first training assembly

By Kalen Arreola
79th SSC PAO

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. – Soldiers of the newly standing 79th Sustainment Support Command completed their first battle training assembly, with Deputy Commanding General William D. Frink there to meet with Soldiers and staff members.

The 79th is a unique two-star command that will ultimately be responsible for more than 20,000 troops across a 26-state region. It has been active since Dec. 1, 2009, but just received the “79th” designation, from the former 79th Infantry Division this month.

Although the unit is now officially established, a public activation ceremony will not take place until August 2010.

For more information about the 79th SSC and its lineage, visit

63rd RRC folds flag in ceremony; commanders laud unit for illustrious history

by John D. Wagner
63rd RRC PAO

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif.—On a chilly afternoon, a crowd of Soldiers and civilians gathered in a somber mood as the 63rd Regional Readiness Command, a unit with history stretching back to combat in World War II, cased its colors in a ceremony for inactivation.

“It’s been a long and proud run for the 63rd,” said Maj. Gen. Bruce A. Casella, commander of the unit, to about 200 people. “The RRC is now out of the Soldier business.”

At the Dec. 6 ceremony, Casella and Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Roberson grasped the midnight blue command flag with its “Flaming Blade” emblem. They carefully furled it up and then gently pushed it into a matching blue cloth case.

Former commanding generals stood on the podium lined with poinsettias and reminisced about leading the unit at different points of its history.

Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Robert B. Ostenberg, commander from 1991 to 1995, recalled the challenges of readying the unit for deployments after the 9-11 attacks. By the time he departed in 2005, about 6,500 Soldiers had been sent to Iraq, Afghanistan, or other areas. “All of our units met the standards,” he said. “I think we have the best Soldiers in the Army.”

Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Theodore Paulson recalled when he was a major in the late 1960s and was ordered to stand up the unit, then called the 63rd Army Reserve Command, in 90 days when it had no money. “I said, ‘yes sir,’ and then about died,” he said with a smile. Nevertheless, he and others got the unit up and running. Two former Commanding Generals were also in attendance, MG® Steven Bisset commanded from 199? To 199? and MG ® Paul E. Mock commanded from 2005-2008.

The 63rd RRC is the last of 10 such commands around the nation folding their flags. The 63rd lineage is being passed to the 63rd Regional Support Command at Moffett Field, Calif. And a new headquarters, the Army Reserve Sustainment Support Command, has started up here at Los Alamitos. The process is part of an ongoing transformation of the Army Reserve to better fit its mission in deployments overseas.

The ceremony also honored the 11 Warriors who have lost their lives during, or in connection with deployments since 9-11. Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Roberson called out each name and a bell rang to emphasize the seriousness of lost lives.

Lt. Col. Miny Wilkes, who narrated the ceremony, read as Soldiers presented peach-pink colored roses to families of three of the fallen Soldiers: Sgt. Paul Nakamura, Master Sgt. Kelly Bolor and Sgt. James Witkowski.

The flowers were “signifying our enduring appreciation and eternal gratitude for their sacrifices,” Wilkes said.

To Soldiers watching the ceremony, who had grown to know and love the 63rd, many expressed sadness at the inactivation.

“I’ve been under the 63rd RRC since 2001,” said Staff Sgt. Francisco Pena, operations NCO for the G-3 section. “It’s difficult for me to see something I’m so familiar with go away.”

"It’s going to be a transition for me,” Staff Sgt. Kenneth Winbrush, mob NCO for G-3, and who will be part of the new Sustainment Support Command. “It’s going to be like a move to a new neighborhood.”

The outgoing command began as the 63rd Infantry Division in World War II. It fought many decisive battles in including the breaking of the infamous Siegfried Line. The division was transferred to the Army Reserve in 1952 and later went through additional name changes along with a redefined mission of supporting frontline Soldiers.

As the 63rd Army Reserve Command, it had 22 units called up for duty both domestically and overseas during Operation Desert Storm. It has also deployed about 10,000 Soldiers to Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas since the 9-11 attacks.

Chief, Army Reserve joins ceremony in Calif., for businesses to hire vets

By John D. Wagner
63rd RRC PAO

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. — The U.S. Army Reserve recently signed an agreement with Teamsters’ Joint Council 42, the Army National Guard, and nonprofit organization Helmets to Hardhats, during a ceremony here on Dec. 11, where all parties committed to helping Soldiers and veterans gain employment.

“We look forward to a tremendous partnership, with us making you a better employer, and you making us a better military,” said Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve and commanding general, U.S. Army Reserve Command.

More than 20 California businesses also attended and made their pledge to hire veterans as well. President Randy Cammack, JC 42, signed on behalf of the union and the local employers.
The council is part of The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which has 1.4 million members worldwide. It is one of the largest labor unions in the world, and the most diverse union in the U.S.

This signing was the latest venture of the Employer Partnership Office, originated by Stultz in 2008, and was formerly called the Employer Partnership Initiative (EPI). The project involves the Army Reserve actively networking and signing agreements with businesses who agree to hire Army veterans, especially those with deployment experience.

Since it began, more than 800 employers have signed partnerships with the Army and National Guard.

“For us to be involved with the Army, it’s just tremendous to be able to do this,” said Cammack, while standing under a large banner that read: “Teamsters Support Our Troops.”
The partnerships help the civilian careers of the Soldiers, while offering businesses a disciplined, highly-trained workforce.

Firms represented at the ceremony included American Income Life Insurance, Caliburnus Enterprises, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc., Orange County Building Trades Council, Liberty Dental Plan, Newport Meat Co., and many others.

“It’s a national tragedy that veterans have a higher unemployment rate than non-veterans,” said Thomas Richards, president of Caliburnus, a disabled-veteran-owned firm that provides management and consultant services to businesses.

“This is a great program. It’s a good beginning. We need to recruit a lot more employers to get more veterans employed.”

New Army Reserve Unit Opens its Doors in Southern California

By Capt. Kalen Arreola
79th SSC PAO

COSTA MESA, Calif. – Warm weather and a cloudless sky greeted a new Army Reserve unit and a crowd of local community members during a change of command ceremony, establishing its presence in Southern California.

Col. Curtis D. Mattison, named commander of the 311th Signal Support Unit, whose headquarters is based in Fort Shafter, Hawaii, officially opened the unit’s doors on Nov. 8, 2009.

The unit was created as part of the Army’s transformation into a more mobile, operationally-driven force and will be bringing more than 120 high-tech, communications-related Army Reserve positions to Southern California.

The unit’s higher command, the 311th Theater Signal Command is a multi-component headquarters in Hawaii that provides information systems and capabilities to support military operations across the globe.

Soldiers from this new unit, and its Hawaii-based counterparts, will support organizations in the Pacific and Korean theaters. There are more than 1,900 active Army, Reserve and Civilians in the command, across 43 countries.

Leadership in attendance at the ceremony included Brig. Gen. Alan R. Lynn, commander, 311th Signal Command, and Brig. Gen. William Frink, commander, 311th Expeditionary Sustainment Command.

Servicemember named DSARC of the Year

Master Sgt. Rita Cassio was a member of the 63rd Regional Readiness Command until it was disestablished in 2009. She was temporarily assigned under the 79th SSC following deployment.

“I love people and I love being able to bring a smile to those around me,” said Master Sgt. Rita Cossio. “Soldiers are special, in that they join the military to serve their nation, what better way for me to return my gratitude than to serve them and help them in any way I can.”

Cossio, deployable sexual assault response coordinator, Headquarters Company, 13th
Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), was named the Multi-National Corps-Iraq DSARC of the Year in October against more than 200 other DSARCs throughout theater.

She will continue on to be considered for the Department of Defense DSARC of the Year
among all other military branches.

“It really wasn’t a hard decision to make,” said Sgt. 1st Class Beatrice Watkins, theater
DSARC, United States Forces-Iraq. “She stood out amongst all the others. If anyone ever
needed something she always came through. People would go to her rather than anyone else for guidance because she never turns a Soldier away.”

Cossio was presented the Army Commendation Medal by Brig. Gen. Peter
C. Bayer, I Corps Chief of Staff, for her professionalism and dedication to duty.
“To do this job you have to have a lot of compassion for the Soldiers,” said Cossio.
“Nothing is more important than the first two seconds with a victim.”

While stationed in Balad as the DSARC, Cossio trained 2,000 Servicemembers in
the span of five months. She would train Servicemembers during nightshifts, after her
normal working day ended, to ensure they received the training.

While Cossio was the DSARC in Balad, there was a four-month period with no sexual assaults reported.

“I was determined to make sure everyone knew who I was, what my job was and that
I was approachable,” said Cossio. “I trained anyone I could. I was more than happy to train at night if that was the best time.”

Cossio has served in the military for 35 years and is determined to help Servicemembers however she can. “I love what I do,” said Cossio. “I’ve extended another six months in this job, there’s a need for passion and commitment. I hope that I can be someone that victims feel like they can turn to.”

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Members of Shura Council Visit to Discuss Islam

Kalen Arreola
79th SSC PAO

Every Army unit is required to complete equal opportunity training of some kind at least semi-annually, but it’s not often the training causes a buzz amongst a room full of Soldiers.

January’s training; however, has created quite a positive stir, and is just the beginning of a long-lasting relationship with the Army Reserve and the Islamic community in Southern California.

“It’s important that as Soldiers and citizens of the United States, we are cognizant and understanding of one another’s culture,” said Maj. Aaron Wilkes, equal opportunity advisor, 79th SSC.

Wilkes said he wanted to bring in a guest speaker who could fill in the gaps between true Islamic faith and negative stereotypes.

Army Reserve Soldiers called up for deployments are expected to work hand-in-hand with local people, and many of them are practicing Muslims.

Mr. Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, spoke about Islamic faith and practices. He represents the more than 500,000 Muslims living in Southern California.

“I came by choice to the United States because it’s the only country in the world that welcomes any type of person from anywhere in the world,” said Syed, who was born and raised in India.

His work in the community crosses all faiths, and he stressed the importance of every person understanding other religious beliefs so there are no negative consequences due to ignorance.

Syed explained how prayer rugs and other objects are used during Islamic practices, the five pillars of Islam, and the five prayers performed by Muslims every day. Syed also explained the similarities and differences between Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

“It is critical that we learn about different cultures and understand the environment we are operating in from a military perspective,” said Wilkes. “We need to be astute, and aware of cultural differences we may encounter.”

Wilkes pointed out that Soldiers are often called on to perform in various jobs overseas, not knowing when they’ll be working hand-in-hand with people of Islamic faith.

“U.S. citizens have an awesome collective responsibility and opportunity to be able to undo those [negative] myths,” said Syed.